Monday, April 04, 2016

Two New York City David Bowie Tributes: Carnegie Hall, March 31, 2016, and Radio City Music Hall, April 1, 2016

by Dick Mac

Carnegie Hall, March 31, 2016

Cyndi Lauper opened the show with a rocking version of "Suffragette City." You can tell she sings the song loudly while driving her car, and like most of us doesn't know the actual lyrics when it comes time to sing it in front of others.

Glenn Gregory and crew did their best-ever performance of "Width of A Circle."

Robyn Hitchcock lent his perfect voice to "Soul Love" and made it sound as if his was the original.

How can one woman be so hugely talented, brilliantly enthusiastic, and humble all at once? You should have seen Laurie Anderson perform "Always Crashing In The Same Car."

Gogol Bordello blew "Breaking Glass" out of the water. Two of the sexiest unattractive guys in the business were mindbogglingly good!

Debbie Harry could not hide her happiness singing "Starman" and she led the audience in a sing-along.

Joseph Arthur's experimental version of "TMWSTW" will not be appreciated by some, but he really was amazing.

Mountain Goats doing "Word On A Wing" made me cry.

J.Mascis performed his personalized version of "Quicksand" with Sean Lennon. It's the version that he originally recorded for Dinosaur, Jr.

Bettye LaVette was, perhaps, the most polished of all the performances and delivered her soul shaking version of "It Ain't Easy."

Perry Farrell. Perry Fucking Farrell nailed "Rebel Rebel." I don't really know Jane's Addiction and am not really familiar with any more than his name. Until now! Looking like a million bucks, and performing the feyest version of the song I've ever heard, Farrell was amazing!

Cat Power who has the voice of a mystic wowed with her version of "Five Years." Even though she seemed distracted or uncomfortable onstage, she proffered a wonderful version.

Ann Wilson did a soulful, almost Motown-like version of "Let's Dance." She danced. We danced.

Michael Stipe performed "Ashes to Ashes." I was never an REM fan. Nothing against them, they just sort of arrived when I wasn't much interested in hearing them. His political activism has been impressive; but he's become just a bit too precious for my taste and his lovely cover of "Ashes To Ashes" was really ruined by his pretentiousness. He can go now.

The Roots bailed. There was a dispute with sharing equipment with other acts, and they found the perpetrators (whoever they were) so offensive they refused to participate. The Vast Majority has their money on The Pixies as the bad guys, but coffee in the hotel lobby the next morning revealed nothing, and standing at the jewelry counter at TJ Maxx revealed less. [EDIT: Come to find out, it wasn't The Pixies who wrecked everything, it was a more significant player in the proceedings.]

The Pixies limped through a lame-ass version of Bowie's version of The Pixies song "Cactus."

My brother's back at home with his Rikki Lee Jones, but we never got it off on that revolutionary stuff. . . . Jones impressed with a lovely acoustic "All The Young Dudes."

Jokob Dylan, who has aged into a very handsome man, did his Wallflowers cover of "Heroes"!

Flaming Lips left me speechless during the afternoon sound check, and the early warning of what
would transpire in the evening did nothing to (mark this as a red-letter day) alleviate that odd notion that Dick Mac was Speechless. "Life On Mars" really came to life!

Choir! Choir! Choir! led the entire audience in a collective rendition of "Space Oddity." Amazing!

The after-party at City Winery was great!


Radio City Music Hall, April 1, 2016

Given the fact that Bowie tributes were held a single day apart in two different venues, basically around the corner from each other, it is impossible to avoid discussion of the venues.  Both RCMH and Carnegie Hall are storied venues, certainly two of the most famous and revered music halls in the Americas.  That reverence is where all comparisons stop.

RCMH, a beautiful, brilliantly designed music hall was acquired by the Dolan Brothers some time ago.  They are the people who own Madison Square Garden and Cablevision.  basically, two over-rated businessmen who want to be jocks (and aren't) and have no idea how to run an entertainment venue as a place a consumer would enjoy.  They run entertainment venues that make lots of cash.  It used to be a joy to go to RCMH; not quite as nice as Carnegie Hall, but nice.

Now, the venue is run like a boxing arena, the staff acts like they are managing a boxing card, the refreshments are similar to those you'd find at a semi-pro basketball game, and the sound system is used like the sound system for a boxing match.  the acoustics are basically ignored, if not downright destroyed by the amplification and incompetence of the sound team.

The venue was half-empty for the first few songs, because everyone was searched just short of an anal probe in order to gain admittance.  If you could have seen this crowd you'd wonder why there were any searches and not a team of geriatric care professionals to get us all to our seats more promptly.

Like all shitty venues run by shitty sports companies, RCMH security works to intimidate the paying customers and maintain the highest possible level of tension and intimidation at the doors, in the lobbies, and in the seats.  Staff stood in the aisles blocking the view of people who paid hundreds of dollars to see the concert, and they were surly when asked to move.  They were heavy-handed with the least dangerous people, and plain-old belligerent with anyone who dared respond to them with a compound sentence instead of an obedient grunt.

In situations like this, the most poorly behaved patrons are empowered because the tension is so high.  Hence, people are up and down, switching seats, arguing with the staff, generally acting like 10-year-olds.

For the record, Carnegie Hall treats every patron like a patron.  They are polite, the mood is calm and exciting, the enthusiasm is palpable, everyone gets to their seats quickly, nobody gets hit, few people experience any conflict, and the place hums like a music venue would hum.

The house band tonight, like last night, was Holy Holy, the band formed by original Spider from Mars, Woody Woodmansey, and Tony Visconti, Bowie's long-time producer and friend.  The vast majority of acts played with Holy Holy as their band.

Ann Wilson opened the show with a soulful rendition of "Space Oddity."  It became (I think) an unintended a sing-along.

Holy Holy then performed their amazing version of Bowie's 8-minute epic "Width of a Circle" from the Man Who Sold The World record.  Glen Gregory belted out the vocals, guitarists Paul Cuddeford, James Stevenson, and Tony Visconti nailed the performance, Terry Edward blew his heart out on sax, Berenice Scott's flawless keyboards flowed, Jessica Lee Morgan's backing vocals filled-in the entire background, and Woody Woodmansey's drums rocked like mad.  The crowd went crazy (while the rest of the crowd continued to file in).

Jakob Dylan, who the previous evening performed his version of Heroes, treated us to a lovely rendition of "Sorrow."  My goodness, he is a handsome bloke, isn't he. 

Since security was so bad, this was the moment I was able to get my second date into an unused seat next to me, so the three of us were together.  It's sort of embarrassing to arrive with two dates and have one person sitting elsewhere.  I mean, really!  What's the point of having two dates to escort if you are not escorting two dates?!?!?

As we were settling back in, Esperanza Spaulding delivered a physically and vocally flowing rendition of "If You Can See Me" from The Next Day record.  Lovely, really, quite lovely.  In every way.

Nashville sensation Ron Pope and his band did a version of "Moonage Daydream" that started like a Country Soul hit from 1968 and burst into a slow, soulful rendition that was more energizing than the crowd gave it credit or honor.  Again, the crowd problems are venue problems, not people problems.

Kyp Malone (TV On The Radio) performed a haunting version of Bowie's amazing "Bewlay Brothers" and although his phrasing seemed cock-eyed at times, I still wept when he sang: "My brother lays upon the rocks he could be dead he could be not, he could be you. He's Camillian comedian, Corinthian and caricature shooting-up pie-in-the-sky . . . "

J. Mascis (Dinosaur, Jr.) was joined by Sean Lennon, just as he had the night before, to perform the Mascis re-write of "Quicksand" that appeared on a Dinosaur, Jr. CD in the mid-1990s.

Michael Stipe (*sigh*).  Stipe is brilliant, he knows his stuff.  Sadly, he regularly breaks Rule 62 ("don't take yourself too damn seriously").  He has created a stunning remake of "Ashes To Ashes" that he performed with the lovely Karen Ellson.  An amazing re-make.  Breath-taking really. But, he has become a caricature of precious pretension and it's impossible to watch as he dramatically acts out (seemingly) his pantomime of addiction; and this was the second lowest point of the show - a real downer.  He's just impossible and if I never see him again it will not be too soon.  Listen to the recording, but avoid looking at the pompous ass hat he has become - it will only encourage him.  He's one of the reasons rock and roll is dying.  Actually, he's just turning it into rock and troll!

The once-dynamic and now-pedestrian Pixies offered (for the second night in a row) the loe-light of the evening.  They delivered a mechanical, perfunctory, flat, un-creative version of Bowie's version of The Pixies song "Cactus."  Listen to the records. Or not. Maybe they'll go away now.

Joseph Arthur (RNDM, Fistful of Mercy), is really a very talented guy, and his idea about performing "The Man Who Sold The World" probably looks great on paper, and I can imagine that his explanation of it is downright exciting; but it takes longer to set-up the song than to perform it, so he loses the audience easily. 

I think it was at this point that an altercation transpired in the back orchestra, on the opposite side from our seats.  Security was probably thrilled, because this justifies their shitty security paradigm.

Fasten your seat belts!  Polyphonic Spree is a huge band and singing group from Texas.  Bowie loved them and referred to them as "The Pretty Polys."  They performed "Slip Away" from Heathen, which they have performed live with Bowie in the past.  They did a beautiful job and blew the roof of RCMH by breaking into "Memory of a Free Festival, Part 2" to conclude their performance.  The place went wild!

The Donny McCaslin Group, joined by Tony Visconti, started the opening notes of "Lazarus" and I thought I would have to get up and leave.  If you have not heard the song, it is Bowie saying good-bye, the artist announcing his imminent death to the world, before quietly departing this mortal coil.  I whispered that I might not be able to handle it while McCaslin blew the opening plaintiff saxophone strains.  I waited and listened, and was relieved that no vocalist stepped forward to sing: "Look up here, I'm in heaven."  The song was presented as an instrumental.  I didn't sob, but it was emotionally taxing.

Jherek Bischcoff, Amanda Palmer & Anna Calvi then joined The Kronos Quartet to put the entire audience in stunned silence with their rendition of "Blackstar" from Bowie's final LP of the same name.  I really never thought I'd see it performed live.  I was, and remain, stunned by its beauty.

Mumford & Sons performed "It Ain't Easy," the soul cover that Bowie inserted in the Ziggy Stardust LP.  The previous night it was performed by Bettye LaVette, so it was hard to even take this group seriously.  It's a grand soul song.  Mumford & Sons are not a grand soul band.  Not bad, actually quite good; but a different cut from Ziggy would have been a better choice.

Cat Power repeated her lovely rendition of "Five Years" from the previous night. Like the performance at Carnegie Hall, her signature phrasing was spot on, but she seemed uncomfortable on the stage.  Her work is so strong that I've never imagined her being intimidated or uncomfortable while performing.  Perhaps I am reading too much into her delivery.  She was, nonetheless, amazing.

There are as many opinions about the Rikki Lee Jones' acoustic version of "All The Young Dudes" as there are covers and recordings of the song over the past 4 decades.  I like it.  I liked it when she was struggling to learn it.  I liked it when she performed it at Carnegie Hall, and I liked it this night.  Jones is a real pro and was not afraid to tackle a song not even remotely suited to her style or songbook.  I adore her and will always remember fondly her live performances of this glam anthem.

Perry Farrell.  Perry Fucking Farrell!  How has he been under my radar all this time?  A pure glam performance, in every sense of the word, of a pure glam anthem, "Rebel Rebel."  A-fucking-mazing.  Really - just breath-taking.  Fey and aggressive, fun and scary, loud and soft, all of it all at once.  I can imagine being in a chat room with Bowie the next day and him gushing about the performance.  My eyes have been opened and I will seek the glam holy land using Farrell's road map.  It's friggin' HOT!

I remember purchasing the 12" vinyl of Blondie's single "Atomic" because it was backed by their live version of "Heroes." It was great on that recording and it was great this night.  It was, unfortunately, during this performance that RCMH's piss-poor sound system, engineering, or implementation was most egregious.  you could barely hear the guitar.  This was true through most of the night, but this song has a pretty vital guitar line.  The performance was grand but the venue continued to be an embarrassment to the entertainment industry.

OK, Flaming Lips covered "Life On Mars."  Again.  In a funny, fun, silly, absurd performance.  One of the principals of these Bowie tribute concerts was candid about the collective decision to exclude particular female artists who are out-of-favor with the most pretentious of Bowie fans, and the most serious rock and rollers.  So, we had to settle for these guys pretending to be that popular current-day girl singer known for silly, over-the-top stage performances.  I'd have preferred seeing the excluded girl, but it also would have been OK to exclude both.  I have nothing more to say about it.

If you are not familiar with Choir! Choir! Choir!, I suggest you do a little research.  They are fun.  From Toronto, they do this regular gig where the public attends and collectively sing the songs of a particular artist.  When Bowie's death was announced, they immediately changed gears for the next performance and posted a video of 500 people singing "Space Oddity."  The video went viral on YouTube and the rest is history.  The original plan for this night was a collective sing-along of The Man Who Sold The World, but it was switched to "Space Oddity."  Tonight's version was better than the Carnegie Hall version.  I saw people crying.

So which tribute was better?  Overall, the performances this night were superior to the Carnegie Hall show, but the venue was so lacking, the house so poorly run, that I'll call it a draw.

After three nights of Bowie Tributes, a group of us made our way to Philadelphia on Saturday for the Holy Holy show at the Tower Theater. If you have not seen Holy Holy, you need to look at their schedule and see them when they play a venue near you.


I look forward to annual tributes to David Bowie, in New York City.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Broken Windows Do Not Exist Only in Communities of Color

by Dick Mac

The notion that ". . . [d]isorder is not directly linked to serious crime; instead, disorder leads to increased fear and withdrawal from residents, which then allows more serious crime to move in because of decreased levels of informal social control[,]" is sound philosophy.

I have no problem with the idea that disorder creates a chaotic environment in which crime becomes inevitable, and potentially accepted.  The crimes that are covered by broken windows policies are not violent crimes: broken windows, public drinking, parking violations, marijuana possession, public urination, loitering, etc., quality-of-life crimes.  If my neighbors are ignoring simple laws that help society function from day-to-day, then the quality of my life goes down.  Their behavior creates tension with others that can (and often does) lead to verbal and physical altercations, and the breaking of additional laws proscribing noise and violence.

One failure of this policy in Brooklyn is that it has been used exclusively against people of color, in neighborhoods that suffer from real crime (East New York, Brownsville, etc.), and is never implemented in generally white communities (Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Dyker Heights, etc.).

The notion that "victim-less" crimes or activities that create chaos do not exist in white communities is absurd.  What has happened is that we have chosen to view the "victim-less crimes" committed by white people to be acceptable while the "victim-less crimes" committed by black people are unacceptable.

I live in a predominantly white area.  There are people of color, but the majority are of European heritage.  Many of the services and businesses I use are in predominantly white neighborhoods; not exclusively, but generally.  I drive through Midwood to Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Borough Park on a regular basis to visit stores, post offices, doctors, banks, and the stuff that we all need.  I also drive through Midwood to Flatbush for department stores, hardware and home improvement stores, etc.

Drive along Avenue M, Bay Parkway, 20th Avenue, 13th Avenue, and other streets in predominantly white neighborhoods, and traffic barely moves.  Why?  Double-parking by cars and delivery trucks.

  


On Avenue M, in particular, there are businesses attracting many consumers who leave their cars in traffic while they run their quick errand.  At the same time, delivery trucks are double-parking for extended periods while dropping-off their loads.  It is common on Avenue M to wait three light cycles to travel a single block.  I have watched emergency vehicles trapped in these quagmires, school buses paralyzed in place, and pedestrians struck by angry drivers raging to get out of the mess.

Cars get entangled, drives start yelling, angry people intentionally tie-up traffic to scream accusations at each other, horns blow, commerce ceases, and life becomes generally unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous.

Often dangerous.

I took this video recently, and it is a tame version of what happens all day, every day, on Avenue M.  Usually this scene is complemented by beeping horns and yelling people.

video


Nothing is ever done about this.

Nothing.

Ever.

This as a quality-of-life crime.

But, because law enforcement chooses to ignore quality-of-life crimes in white neighborhoods, we live with this.

Tie-up traffic for three blocks on Avenue M in the middle of rush hour, and there is no problem.

Urinate on a tree behind a building on Ralph Avenue, and you will be arrested, probably beaten, and possibly shot. If you are black.

I know you think I am exaggerating, and perhaps I am.  A little bit.  You probably won't get shot for public urination in a black neighborhood, but you can be certain there will be NO consequences for disrupting progress, commerce, and traffic in a white neighborhood.  If you are white.

The current mayor is working to alleviate this problem of disproportionate punishment for men of color, and there has been success. It would be a bigger success if the police union would force its membership do their jobs, instead of positioning themselves as political operatives.  At the same time, there has been no effort in any way, shape, or form, to enforce laws in white neighborhoods that could alleviate potentially violent situations.  There are dozens of streets I can't drive down because of illegally parked cars.

It is good that we are moving away from the random and unnecessary harassment of men committing "victim-less crimes" in black neighborhoods, but it would be good if, at the same time, we would enforce the laws against men who commit "victim-less crimes" that disrupt the quality of life for people in white neighborhoods.

Although the notion of "broken window" laws enforcement is generally a good idea, the implementation of it is a complete failure, and the police should take responsibility for enforcing laws equally in all communities.

Clean up the white streets while you clean up the black streets.  Ticket and tow cars, and arrest drivers who refuse to cooperate or continually break the laws.

Thank you for letting me vent, we now return you to your regular programming . . .


Thursday, March 03, 2016

Counting Supporters


by Dick Mac

Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton are battling for the Democratic nomination to run for President in 2016.

There are complaints from the Sanders camp that the mainstream media very much diminishes his campaign.  Clinton supporters insist that this has never been true.

I think Sanders supporters are correct, but I have never heard or read anything that would definitively point to this.

Until this morning.

WNYC aired a story that discussed the day-after events of the two Democratic candidates.

Clinton's day was described as including a rally at the Javits Center that attracted "thousands of supporters," and a benefit at Radio City Music Hall, starring Elton John, that attracted 6,000.

Sanders Michigan rally was described as being held in a "college basketball arena" and no numbers were proffered.

The report successfully made it sound as if Clinton had many, many thousands of people at her event; and that Sanders had a room full of college students.

Then you can do the math.

The college basketball arena at which the Sanders rally was held is the Breslin Student Events Center that holds 16,280 people.  It was full.

Clinton had a guaranteed 6,000 at Radio City to see Elton John, but it seems her "thousands" of supporters at Javits Center were really (according to her campaign) 5,000.  One can safely assume that the number was inflated and she probably had about 2,500 people at that rally.  Crowd estimate mathematics as a science is always used to fabricate a number that suits the purpose of the announcer.  Another interesting fact is that at least one union leader promised comp time to any member who attended the Clinton rally, ostensibly paying tradesmen to attend.

If we use her "officially" announced numbers, this puts Clinton's followers at two events totaling (generously) about 11,000 in her "home state."

Sanders attendance had no official announcement, but multiple reports state that the Breslin Center was filled and that puts the count of supporters at 16,000.

Clinton (and Elton John) attracted thousands of supporters, while little was said about the Sanders event at the quaint little student basketball arena.

This is exactly what Sanders people mean when they say the mainstream media does not cover the Sanders campaign.

On a closing note, in his speech at the Clinton event, Democrat-for-hire, Governor Andrew Cuomo, did a wonderful, mocking impersonation of Donald Trump (he's still political detritus, but this is funny):


Monday, February 01, 2016

Steady in the Polls, but Sinking in the Human Decency Arena


by Dick Mac

Wow!  I didn't think anyone was going to say it quite as directly as this article:

The “Bernie Bros” Narrative: a Cheap Campaign Tactic Masquerading as Journalism and Social Activism

I have been irritated by Clinton supporters and their press corps complaining about name-calling. Most of the Clinton supporters I read are name-callers who insist that their name-calling isn't name-calling because it is just statement of facts.  It's like a collective brainwashing, "folie a mob."

Then the scuttle-butt about Sanders supporters being sexist somehow managed to squeak-by with nary an objection raised, even though it was clearly a tactic to marginalize and embarrass Sanders supporters.

Now, the Clinton supporters and their press corps have coined the phrase "Bernie Bros" to imply that all male Sanders supporters are immature, homophobic misogynists.

At this point it appears that Hillary Clinton is running a more right-wing campaign than any Democrat since LBJ, it's really quite on the order of Nixon's 1972 campaign.

Take your pick of her regressive policies:  economics, war, health care?

Sure, in the past she had a good position on health care.  She probably had the finest position in the nation, and certainly worked harder than anyone EVER on the doomed Clinton health care policy. Those days are long gone and she now says it is impossible to fix the health care system, and we will never have a single-payer solution.  Well, if the nation's greatest advocate of Universal health care has abandoned that movement for her own gain, then I guess it might just be dead.

She has never had an acceptable position on economic policy, domestic or international.  She is actually more of a supply-sider than her husband.  She has no intention of attempting the regulation of de-regulated industries (like finance and telecommunications de-regulated by her husband).  She is in the same cesspool of begging form the bankers as Ted Cruz.

She has never met a military campaign she couldn't learn to love (even it means condemning it after the money is spent and profits are made).  Nor has she ever met a military contractor with whom she could not find common ground and enjoy a nice meal.

The argument of many liberals, as usual, is that she is the lesser-of-two-evils when choosing between her and any Republican. I used to laugh at liberals who voted for candidates like Andrew Cuomo, because he was the lesser of two evils.  Now, I am frightened of liberals who support Hillary Clinton, and reading their excuses and tirades is now embarrassing.

Yes, she is a better choice than any GOP candidate currently in the mix; but that does not mean that she is the best Democrat for the country or party; and she isn't any more electable or un-electable than Sanders.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Dear David Bowie:


by Dick Mac

Good morning, Sailor:

Look at you, you're in heaven!

Everyone says hi, we all miss you so much.  The telly is filthy with stories about you.

I heard the news today.  Oh boy!  I was flabbergasted and I am gutted.  You're gone.

It's impossible to say which song or moment is the most memorable, you gave so much.  When you gave us davidbowie.com was a very special time.  You would come into the chat room and say hello, and banter along with us.  For some reason at this moment I am remembering the day you spent a chat session teaching us all to speak Cockney.

When I was back and forth between New York and London, you'd ask me how things were going.  Never long, drawn-out conversations, but you cared enough to ask.  You gave me some tips about places in London, and even deigned to respond to a question I had about the footy.  I won't ever tell anyone you said "Chelsea" when I asked if there was a side you liked.  I guess I was disappointed you weren't a Gooner, but looking back I now realize that David Bowie chatted with me about soccer, and how lucky I am, and how special all these memories are.

Then there was BowieArt.  What a fucking brilliant idea!  As a small-scale art collector, I was blown-away by this idea:  introduce the world to new, unknown artists, and give them a platform on which to show their work to a worldwide audience.  I learned about Spanish artist Marta Marce from you, and I adore her work.  My wife and I took the train out to Clapton Junction one evening after work to visit her studio, and we bought two paintings.  You were so excited when Beth told you about our acquisitions, and you dropped me an email thanking me.  How many rock gods do that?

Then there was the release of Heathen.  Other records had come and gone since your appearance on the internet, but for Heathen you were full-force out there.  You were very public, and so much fun.  You became the King of the Internet, and we were your subjects.  You were so generous.  You gave so much.  As much as BowieNet gave us access to you, it gave you access to us and you jumped right in with us!

Suddenly we knew what you were going to be doing - because you'd tell us - and you made sure that Blammo invited us along:  television studios, secret shows.  You had shows just for BowieNetters at Roseland, just because we were part of this community you'd created.

Remember that 2002 show?  You came out in your Thin White Duke costume from 1976, told the story about bringing "Low" to the executives at RCA, and them begging you to make another "Young Americans"and they would pay you any amount of money you wanted, and then you and the band performed the entire Low album from first note to last for us.  I think I wept at one point.

You made me weep many times during performances.  In particular, I was at the Area 2 show in the middle of the woods in Massachusetts with my best friend who was so very sick.  I didn't know how long he was going to live, but he was with me that day.  When you sang "Everyone Says Hi" we both had tears streaming down our faces.  He lived another year-and-a-half, which was wonderful.  You gave me that moment with a man I loved so much that I cried listening to you sing about taking the big trip, the trip you are on now.

Then there was the day in front of the Diana Ross building, in Queens.  I know, right?!?!?  Why would it be called the Diana Ross building?  I mean, Louis Armstrong lived in Queens and if you want to name a Queens building after a musician, why Diana Ross?  Anyway, I digress.

You had to film a couple of the new songs for the BBC in conjunction with the release of Heathen.  You made sure the audience was filled with your people, us.  Then afterwards, you hung around the studio, still in your costume, chatting with us.  Suddenly, you said:  "Wait!  Let me get out of all this, and meet you out front."

We waited out front while you changed and took care of business, then you were there:  hanging on a street corner in Queens with a dozen of us, chatting and taking pictures with us.  It was amazing.  I mean, how many rock gods hang on a street corner in Queens with his fans?

You asked if I was living in London or New York.  you asked how my wife was doing.  You remembered me, and you cared enough to ask about ME.  You wanted to know about ME!

I knew that day that I was involved with something special, a community of people brought together by you who shared so much in common and had you as our ringleader!

Meltdown 2002!  Great job, man!  Perhaps the best 5 days in a row I ever spent in London.

The Marathon Tour?!?!?!  You are such a New Yorker!  What other entertainer of your caliber would book a show in each of the five New York City boroughs, along the route of the New York Marathon?  None!  No other entertainer was as cool as you.

My brother is a firefighter, and he was in town for something related to the World Trade Center disaster.  I took him to the Staten Island show and at the end he said:  "That is the best rock concert I've ever been to."  It was an amazing show and we had friends in from all over the world for it.

Then that amazing Brooklyn show where you sang something like 32 songs, including "Bewlay Brothers"!  Queens, where Tony was kind enough to give Carla and me his after-show backstage passes.  We got to chat with all of the band, but you were out pretty quickly that night.  Then in The Bronx, you played Jimmy's Bronx Cafe and said from the stage:  "We're here every Friday night, and we only cover David Bowie songs!"  Manhattan, Philadelphia and Boston were all the pretty much same show, but amazing nonetheless, including a live performance of "Alabama Song"!

Then after you did "Reality," you toured the world, then settled-into your home in SoHo to raise your daughter.  You were gone.  I'd hear things about you from Blammo or Tony.  Always minor things, but they were connections that remained after you decided to take a break and be a dad.


There are so many memories.  You gave me so much.

From the early-70s, when I was an awkward urban urchin confused about sexuality, drugs, and life in general, and you sang songs that seemed written for me, to the opening of Lazarus at the end of 2015, the empty moments of my life have been filled-in by your creations.

You gave me Leeza and Helen, Kelmar and Carla, King Tommy and Cavebat, Rex Ray and Myriam, Beff and Liz, Leah and Blammo, Princess Ramsey and Ursula, NNMaddox and Mayumi, Mary and Nikki, Demerson and Irmavep, Luis and all the Marks, Karen and Susan, Kate and Iana, Georgina, Patti, Shakeh, The Rabbi, Rednik, Andy, and scores more:  people who are remarkable, people I love, people I can count as my friends, because of you.

I feel like I've lost a close friend.  You made me feel special, you made me feel important, that I mattered to you.  Even when we disagreed, you were always generous of time and spirit, and now you're gone.

Life goes on for me, but it will be a slightly less amusing life without you.

I'll keep my memories close and I'll buy a little frame, something cheap . . . for you.